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Maternity Fashion Tips

Updated on April 5, 2009

First pregnancy: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.
Second pregnancy: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
Third pregnancy: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

Perhaps you’ve heard the joke before. Whether or not you have, there is- sadly- some truth to it.

Maternity fashion has come a long way since the days of women attempting to hide their watermelon-sized stomachs under tent-like dress shirts. Today’s maternity clothes follow all the trends of regular women’s fashion. Showing off your bump has become so vogue that some even go to the lengths of wearing a bikini during pregnancy to show off their bulging bundle of joy protruding from their midsection.

You can feel beautiful and fashionable throughout your pregnancy with just a little effort. Here are the basics you need to know.

1. Buy maternity clothes- please

We’ve all seen the women who attempt to wear their regular- or worse, their husband’s- clothes through the length of their pregnancy. While this is entirely possible, it’s not at all attractive. Please take the time and money to invest in at least a few basic maternity pieces to carry you through the long months ahead. "You look smaller in your maternity clothes than you do stuffed like a sausage into your regular clothes," says Claudia Roberts (owner of Generations Maternity Shoppe in Los Angeles) in an article for

2. Don’t wait too long to buy your clothes, and don’t buy them all at once

Many of your shirts will continue to fit well into your second trimester. Your pants, however, won’t be so forgiving. You can make your regular pants and skirts fit a little longer by pulling a rubber band through the button hole and looping it around the button. Or make use of a sensational product called Bella Band that transitions your regular clothes through your first trimester, hides belly panels during your second and third, and helps you convert back into your regular clothes after having baby.

You’ll need to buy items here and there as your pregnancy progresses because in your first weeks of pregnancy, it’s impossible to predict how- and where- your body will transform over the next few months. Do yourself a favor and buy clothing elements over time.

3. You will need different sizes and styles throughout your pregnancy

When buying maternity clothes, simply buy your pre-pregnancy size in maternity wear. You will continue to wear the same size you wore before you were pregnant with the extra inches designers have added into maternity styles to accommodate your growing curves. That being said, styles that fit beautifully in your second trimester may become uncomfortable in your third. And when you reach the last three or four weeks, all fashion rules go out the window along with most of your maternity wardrobe. When you reach this point, just wear whatever you can stretch over your belly.

4. Wear styles and pieces that compliment your best features

There will be parts of your body you grow uncomfortable with during your pregnancy, but there will be just as many that you will be proud- possibly newly proud- to show off. So whether it’s your legs, arms, shoulders, or cleavage (that you never even had before your pregnancy)- choose items to show off your best features!

5. Show off that baby bump!

No matter what features you flaunt or wish you could forget, every pregnant woman’s best feature is her growing belly. Don’t go the road of yesteryear and try to hide your tummy under muumuus and gathers of flowing fabric, find pieces that hug your bump and show it off. “Anything that fits closely to your body looks cleaner, neater, and more flattering,” says Liz Lange, owner of Liz Lange Maternity.

Maternity Fashion Tips from Liz Lange

6. Sport some color

This is not the time to try to hide. If you have never experienced it before, many eyes will be on you now when you’re out and about as people feel free to admire you carrying the human body’s most amazing miracle. So celebrate the life within you and wear color! If you’re not comfortable in bright tops or skirts, go for a smaller pop with a headband, bracelet, or shoes.

7. No need to break the bank

Maternity fashion has become a huge money-making market. And although you’ll only be wearing these clothes for nine months, when you get to the end of those nine months, you’ll realize that it is a lot longer than it seemed at the beginning. Pregnancy is worth investing in a few quality pieces that will last you through your pregnancy. Treat yourself and hit a special boutique or pregnancy store for those staples.

But who can afford to go out and buy a completely new wardrobe for this small season of their life? Be green, and save some green, by shopping at second hand or consignment stores. Think about it, the women who had these clothes didn’t wear them very long. Chances are they’re in pretty good shape. If you can’t stand the thought of wearing second-hand clothes, you can save by hitting clearance racks. Clothes that are on clearance in your first trimester will probably be in season in your third.

8. Take care of your tootsies

Your feet may be a part of your body you don’t think about initially when it comes to maternity fashion. But any mommy can tell you that your feet will change along with the rest of your body. They may swell- temporarily or permanently, stretch out due to the hormone relaxin, or get so puffy with retained water that they are a consistent diameter from your knees to your toes.

You can get a few pairs of cute flats that are a half-size bigger than you would normally wear to be sure you stay comfortable. You center of gravity will shift as your tummy grows, so chances are you will have a hard time balancing in those stilettos come the third trimester. Limit yourself to a kitten heel or at least a wedge. And in your last trimester, don’t plan to wear any shoes you have to tie or zip. You won’t be able to reach your feet to do so.

9. A few items of universal flattery- and contention

There are a few pieces of maternity wear that will flatter all figures. A wrap top will open your face and neck and will compliment your enhanced bust line. (If you’re uncomfortable showing cleavage, throw a pretty camisole underneath.) Synthetic fabrics that hug your curves will work best. V-neck shirts will help lengthen your face, which may be a little fuller than usual. Empire waists will clearly define your blossoming belly while skimming over any lumps or bumps you’re uncomfortable with. And an A-line skirt will help balance out your disproportionate figure. Just be aware that some skirts and dresses will make you look like an olive on a toothpick.

Yoga or stretch pants with a fold down waist may be able to fit throughout your pregnancy. You can fold them in half for your first trimester and then fold them all the way up or down as your belly continues to swell.

Then there are the maternity clothes that pregnant women can’t seem to agree on, so go with what works for you. The designers are all the rage about maternity pants that sit under the belly, thus avoiding seeing your pant “panel” through your tops. I tend to disagree with these experts in that I always felt like the pants sitting under my tummy were falling down and spent half of my day yanking my pants up. Personally, I’m much more comfortable in the maternity pants that pull over a baby bump. Try on a few different styles and make your own judgment.

10. Having trouble feeling attractive? Spruce up your lingerie!

Depending on your attitude toward pregnant bodies, your own in particular, you may have a hard time feeling beautiful given all that’s going on with your figure. When you have those moments- and you will- find solace in pretty bras and panties. Note that you will need to buy bigger bras as your pregnancy progresses. See a bra-fitting expert in a lingerie department or at a maternity store for specific help on meeting the underwear needs that pregnancy raises. Panties may need to be bought one size larger too, this will accommodate your hips as they widen in preparation for your baby’s birth.

No matter what you’re wearing, having something sexy on under your clothes will amp up your feeling of desirability. So don’t pick out the same old white cotton for once, take a chance on that red or pink lacey item you’ve always eyed.

Pregnancy is a time of major change, in every way. Fortunately, maternity fashion doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the above tips, finding and buying clothes for your pregnancy can be one of the best parts!


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